So Ben Roethlisberger didn't play well in Super Bowl XLV. He threw two interceptions and the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Green Bay Packers.
Here come the haters.
Ben now has three touchdown passes and five interceptions in three career Super Bowl games. Not very impressive. That being said, Ben is still one of the best quarterbacks in the league and of his generation.
Since Ben has been in the league he's had good stats and has won two Super Bowls.
Yet, some suggest that he isn't an "elite" quarterback. That's insane. Why—because he doesn't throw for 4,000 yards every year? Jon Kitna threw for over 4,000 yards as a Detroit Lion; is he elite?
This is a result of the fantasy football generation, aka the stat geeks. Fantasy football is starting to destroy the perception of how players should be judged.
Most of Roethlsberger's detractors say that he only wins because of his defense and running game.
That's true in small doses, but he is certainly a big reason why the Steelers were competing for their third Super Bowl in six years.
Since Roethlisberger has been the starting quarterback for the Steelers, he's been a winner; more than that, he's been clutch in big games and in big moments.
The dictionary defines clutch as "tending to be successful in tense or critical situations."
That's a perfect definition—and defines Big Ben perfectly. Sure, he came up short in the Super Bowl. But let's face it: He wasn't getting much help from his receivers or his offensive line—not to mention that he has to quarterback a team that might have the worst play-caller in the NFL.
I have no excuses for Ben and his play in the Super Bowl; he didn't play well. But who on the Steelers did? Rashard Mendenhall? Up until his fumble he did, but that fumble cost the Steelers the game. The defense couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to save their lives. Where was Troy Polamalu? Did he even play?
Fact is, Ben almost led the Steelers to one of the biggest comebacks in Super Bowl history; he came up short. Does that mean that he's not clutch?
Tom Brady has lost three straight playoff games and has been awful in two of them. Is he still a great QB? Is he still clutch?
In the 2010 playoffs, Roethlisberger received some help from the defense as they forced a couple of turnovers. Ben and the offense did their job, took advantage and turned those turnovers into two touchdowns.
Against the Ravens, he led the Steelers on an 11-play, 65-yard touchdown drive that eventually won the game.
Even more impressive is the poise that Ben possesses in these kinds of moments.
The drive had come to a halt as the Steelers stared at an impossible 3rd-and-19. Ben decided to change the play call, drop back and toss a 54-yard bomb to rookie receiver Antonio Brown.
The throw was perfect and almost went for a touchdown, but Brown's momentum carried him out of bounds.
A few plays later, Rashard Mendenhall carried the ball into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Against the Jets in the AFC Championship game, Roethlisberger did not play great, but he still made some clutch plays and helped his team win.
He completed two passes on third downs late in the game, clinching the victory. He wasn't throwing the ball well, so he used his feet, running for three first downs and a touchdown.
For me and fellow Big Ben and Steelers fans, it's nothing new and certainly isn't surprising—Ben has always embraced these moments since he's been a Steeler.
He has the most fourth-quarter game-winning drives and fourth-quarter comebacks since he's been in the league.
Roethlisberger has a regular season record of 60-26—but perhaps most impressively, he is now 10-3 as a starter in the playoffs.
He engineered possibly the most dramatic Super Bowl drive and game-winning touchdown pass in history, and has a total of two Super Bowl rings and four AFC Championship appearances in just seven years.
At some point, I just have to throw my hands up in the air and say there's an anti-Roethlisberger bias.
I know some people don't like the guy, as there's a perception that he's not a "good" guy. But as far as being a quarterback and player goes, he's special.
Yes, he has been blessed with a good supporting cast—he's been blessed by being drafted to a franchise that is committed to winning.
That being said, how many Super Bowls did the Steelers win after Terry Bradshaw retired and before Ben became the quarterback?
The Steelers had championship-caliber teams in the '90s and in the the early 2000s, yet they never had a championship-caliber quarterback.
Kordell Stewart threw three interceptions in two home AFC Championship games. Neil O'Donnell almost single-handedly lost Super Bowl XXX.
What if the Steelers had Roethlisberger on some of those teams?
Yes, Roethlisberger was drafted to a good team and to a good franchise—but the Steelers were just 6-10 the year before Ben got here.
He rejuvenated the Steelers, going 15-0 in the regular season his rookie year. He made big plays and gave the team a newfound energy.
People have made a big deal that the Steelers went 3-1 this year without Roethlisberger, yet the Patriots went 11-5 without Brady two years ago. Again, there's a double standard when it comes to Ben.
What separates Roethlisberger from other quarterbacks is something that you can't teach. His physical and mental toughness is what makes him special. Ben can have a miserable first half and find a way to prevail in the end.
What I don't understand is why people fail to mention Roethlisberger with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Is it because of his stats?
Do these people not realize that Ben is the eighth-highest-rated passer in NFL history? Did Ben not go 9-6 last year while throwing for over 4,300 yards, with 26 touchdowns and a QB rating over 100?
I hear a lot of people say that it's the team, not Roethlisberger. I hear people say that if you put Peyton on the Steelers, he would have multiple Super Bowls as well. That's ridiculous.
Manning is a choke artist.
He has had a top 10 defenses four different times in his career (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009), including the best defense in the NFL in 2007. He's also played with more Pro Bowlers than Big Ben.
If you say to me, "Give Peyton Manning the Steelers' defense," I'll say, "OK—let Roethlisberger throw to Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and Marvin Harrison with Edgerrin James in the backfield in a dome with a perfect climate."
If you want Manning to have Roethlisberger's defense, then he has to play outside in Pittsburgh, behind Ben's offensive line, with Roethlisberger's receivers.
Are these same people suggesting that Tom Brady has never benefited from good defenses? The Patriots have had a top 10 defense in eight of the last 10 seasons, including the best scoring defense twice.
Now Aaron Rodgers is considered an elite QB. That's fine; but his defense was ranked second in the NFL this year in scoring defense.
Roethlisberger got killed for winning the AFC Championship with no TD passes, two picks and a 35 QB rating. Yet Rodgers also won the NFC Championship with zero TD and two picks.
Can someone say double standard?
Aside from having the eighth-best quarterback rating of all time, Ben has the fourth-best yards-per-attempt in NFL history.
My opinion is that fantasy football geeks and stat junkies get mad because they don't have a way of understanding how Ben always seems to find a way to get a victory.
It's because he's a natural winner. He has "it." "It" can't be explained, but Ben has it.
You have to talk about him being an all-time great. Then you have to put him in with Brady and Manning regardless of stats or what the "experts" might think.
All I know is that despite all the stats and arguing, one thing is for sure—Roethlisberger is clutch.
When his career is over, Roethlisberger may end up being the best clutch quarterback of his generation and maybe even of all time.
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